Spalding United 2
Lincoln United 1
Nine-man Spalding United staved off a late Lincoln United barrage to bag a dramatic derby win on Tuesday night.
A spectacular Nathan Whitehead effort gave the Tulips an 11th-minute lead at the Sir Halley Stewart Playing Field, before Gary King lashed home a deflected near-post effort (54) to seemingly put the Evo-Stik NPL Division One South clash beyond Lincoln.
That changed when Spalding’s Connor Marshall (63) and Jonny Lockie (77) were both sent off either side of a Rob Norris strike, setting up a tense finale.
However, led by a man-of-the-match performance from keeper Michael Duggan, the Tulips held on to make it back-to-back wins.
Boss Chris Rawlinson said: “I thought that, until the first sending off, we were comfortable and good value for the 2-0 lead. I thought we coped alright after the first sending off, but the second one made it real backs-to-the-wall stuff.
“And, to be fair, they should have got something from the game after that last ten minutes of pressure.
“But that was down to Michael Duggan – that’s why he was in the team of the year last season. He was immense, as was the whole back four.
“Maybe I need to talk to the lads about our discipline, though. The referee told me that Jonny (Lockie) elbowed his man off the ball. If he has, that is completely justified.
“Connor’s was perhaps a little bit harsh, I thought it was a yellow. But you have to look at the letter of the law; if you lung – and it’s dangerous – with either one or two feet, it can be classed as serious foul play.
“So it is what it is.
“Overall, I have to say that it’s been a great response from the lads after that shocking Bank Holiday weekend. 13 points from seven games is almost two points a game.
“We’ve now got two really tough away games, but I’m really pleased with the lads. We’ve just won two games on the spin and will go into them full of confidence.”
After a drab first ten minutes, Spalding broke the deadlock from the game’s first genuine attack.
And what a goal it was too, with Whitehead hooking a superb effort over his shoulder and into the far corner, giving Jake Turner no chance.
Nothing really changed after the opener, with both sides evenly matched. Lincoln will feel that they should have levelled on the 25-minute mark, however, with Jack McGovern heading a very presentable chance wide at the near post.
Spalding keeper Duggan was forced to make a smart save just after the break, as he expertly tipped away McGovern’s glancing header. Jack Wightwick latched onto the rebound, but Adam Jackson was there to clear off the line.
But, just when it looked like Lincoln would start the second half with gusto, the Tulips doubled their lead. Top control from the in-form King allowed him to fashion a chance on his left foot – which he buried at the near post with the aid of a deflection.
It was almost 2-1 instantly with Norris hitting the outside of Duggan’s near post.
Things then got tougher for Spalding on 63 minutes when Marshall was controversially given a straight red card following a flying tackle.
The hosts made changes to shore things up, but were indebted to a flying save from Duggan to keep out Ryan Oliver’s close-range effort. However, the Whites did get their goal 15 minutes from time when
Norris turned home a Wightwick cross from close range.
It was almost 2-2 minutes later, but a heroic double save from Duggan denied both Cotton and Wightwick.
Matters got worse for the Tulips when sub Lockie was also given a red card for an alleged elbow, setting up a frantic finale.
Oliver lashed a great chance wide after another Duggan save as Lincoln enjoyed near total domination, but Spalding held on to move up to fifth in the table ahead of trips to Leek Town (Saturday, 3pm) and Frickley Athletic (Tuesday, 7.45pm).
Tulips: Duggan, Fixter, Jackson, Varley, Humble, Spafford, Marshall, Whitehead, King (Lockie 66), Riettie (Lemon 64), Acar (McGhee 84). Not used: Townrow, Fletcher.